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There are many bands that have attempted to merge the elements of an abrasive, caustic metal sound with horror and humor. Very few succeed in this endeavor. Ghoul did that. There are some bands that have tried to cultivate a stage identity and use props and wear masks or costumes. Less bands have tried this. Ghoul nailed it. But almost none can say that they had Oderus Urungus appear in their music videos. Ghoul achieved such an honor. Ghoul also created a smashing album with Splatterthrash. Unlike other albums like “We Came For the Dead,” “Splatterthrash” takes a more humorous and slick take on their monstrous sound. The style is also much more thrashy approach instead of the 100% death metal approach of their earlier years. The slick Halloween-y (yes I just said Halloween-y) sounding production allows for more dissonant riffs and licks to rise to their full potential in terms of their range.
I say Halloween-y due to songs like “Psychoplasm” and “Baron Samedi.” They both sound like a chase through a cemetery at night. There is also a “surf” element to these tracks because of the guitar picking and drum rhythms that are scattered about these two songs that make them absolutely unique. The sound and vibe of Ghoul on this release is also one of a kind. “Into the Catacombs,” “Merde!,” and “Rise, Killbot, Rise” were arguably the best songs on the album for a multitude of reasons. The first of these three is the album’s most well-rounded instrumental and lures its listener in with a quiet guitar that sounds like a lonely crow calling its last caw, and then Dissector and Co. sweep you off your feet with a full band assault of guitars and drums. Merde! had a nice groove throughout littered with bass key changes under the guitar riffs, eerie synths, and changes in tempos that make the song complete. “Splatterthrash’s” longest track and my favorite of this album is “Rise, Killbot, Rise.” I loved the robotic voice used in the verses and the humorous references to the album art of this release. Also, the song structure was entertaining and offers the listener a great insight into the band’s full spectrum of sound.
The content and quality of the music and lyrics in “Spaltterthrash” was good in some categories but seriously lacked in others. The biggest problem with this record is by far the repetitive nature of the chord progressions used in songs like “As Your Casket Closes” or “Into the Catacombs.” But the production by Dan Randall was different than “We Came For the Dead” and “Maniaxe.” The playing on “Splatterthrash” was more sensitive to the sound of all instruments used. I can tell that the band members actually listened to each other when they were recording these tunes. The lyrics of this album were very original. None of it was the stereotypical lyrical content about metalheads destroying things, some nuclear waste meltdown or causing a riot. It was nothing like that, only completely unique lyrics.
I think that the most Ghoul fans will like or at the very least appreciate the change in sound for this great band. The band went from being a no-nonsense pure death metal band, to this morbid comedy group. This concept worked for me, but I doubt that it did the same for others. This issue of changing your band’s sound and image has worked for some (Death) but completely backfired for others (Metallica). The record even features a didgeridoo player and an organist, Baron Samedi and “Mr. Fang.” This band’s taste is eclectic, and it’s obvious. And speaking of change, check out the album art of “Splatterthrash.” It’s too much to handle at first due to its over the top cartoon-like look, littered with speech bubbles and all sort of morbid debauchery. It features all of the members of the band (including Cremator playing an upright bass), Killbot, Gore Bore, and a pack of ravenous characters who entertain the eye.
Razorback Records hit this one out of the park for me and other metalheads, and I can’t wait to hear what comes after “Hang Ten.”
A haunting guitar only intro opens up Ghoul's 2006 album Splatter Thrash's first song, Into The Catacombs, creating an atmosphere that leaves the listener completely unprepared for what comes next. A crushing rhythm riff and a bezerk lead solo, before it slows down once again. Yes, sir, this album is one hell of a twisted roller coaster ride through the mind of the insane, in one of the finest 42 minutes you will find anywhere in metal.
The first evaluation to make of this album is that it is not one for the faint hearted, and not only because of the utterly over the top lyrical themes. The speed changes frequently in a style more known in the progressive genre, but it remains consistently atmospheric and bone breakingly heavy. This is an album that blends thrash music with elements of grindcore and death metal, and a death metal vocal style delivered by all four members of the band. These influences are not much surprising given that two of the members of the band were also part of Death/Grind titans Impaled, but it makes for an extremely interesting combination. The musicianship on display throughout Splatter Thrash is utterly top notch. From the instrumental opener, it leads directly into an incredible tremolo picked intro to track 2, As Your Casket Closes. The guitar works is some of the best i have heard from any band ever, and the drumming matches it, keeping a solid beat throughout. The drums is the one thing in which there are not as many tempo changes. The guitars shift up from mid paced riffs to fast ones and slower ones, but the drums are a constant beat, with some interesting fills found throughout the album, particularly around 1.30 into the second song.
The riffs are surprisingly tight, being consistently heavy and creating a morbid atmosphere for the rest of the band to build off. Each different speed the riffs are played at is still fully realized, and there are no weaker riffs to be found on this album. Every song sounds completely independent of the others, but without breaking up the flow of the album, which is always nice to hear. The lead work is equally amazing, with the soloing throughout the album being utterly top notch. The band members are full of energy vocally, with Digestor being the most often heard, but Dissector, Cremator and Fermentor all being present and correct throughout, creating some interesting tones to hear. The vocals are well paced and perfectly done, occasionally even sounding like a titular Ghoul. The vocal work sounds like a demon from a horror film on a diet of razor blades, and creates an incredibly intense feeling.
The bass work is the one down side of this album. It is audible throughout, but does very little to deviate away from what the rest of the band is doing, which really did come off as sounding lazy, since the band are clearly so talented. Bury The Hatchet and the title track are extremely weak in terms of the bass work, and this really does take a lot away from the overall experience of the album. The songs throughout this album really do feel like the perfect soundtrack to a horror movie, as is obviously the intention. The over the top styling to songs such as Baron Samedi, Rise, Killbot, Rise and Psychoplasm does much for this band, with everything feeling deliberately exaggerated to a nearly insane level. The lyrics are disgusting, the drumming frantic, the guitar work varied and well written, everything merges together perfectly. Overall, this is a good listen, and definitely worth a listeners money.
I was introduced to Ghoul through their blistering cover/parody of "What a Wonderful World" and have been addicted to their mosh-inducing sound ever since. But it wasn't until I listened to this album that I found the sound that Ghoul was meant to have.
Where they have removed much of the flat-out grind sound that had dominated their previous two albums, it by no means sacrifices the speed and out intensity we have come to expect of the band. In fact, it has only helped in their sound. The cleaner sounds of a more crossover thrash/death rhythm (with plenty of dismal keys to keep the mood nice and dismal), the 4-piece has created a sound similar to fellow death-thrashers but remain unignorable in their distinctness.
Where the band stands out to me the most is in this album is in three particular songs: Psychoplasm, Life of the Living Dead, and Baron Samedi. The first of which returns to the strange psychedelic surf rock sound that closed out their previous album, but sitting in the album's middle is serves as an excellent (not to mention, outright groovy) intermission in the album's strange and deadly songs of mutation and mutilation. The second serves as a telling of the inhabitants of their town giving over to Christian-controlled government. In a song of typical metal themes, there is a slower, more chanting pace. It's rather dissimilar to the rest of the band's discography, but makes the even slower, full riffs of Baron Samedi (the album's closer) an easier transition.
While Ghoul has moved their sound from a knock-out, drag-out horror death-thrash sound, they have by no means lost their touch. The album as a whole still shreds, thrashes, and pushes with the best of them. But in the hilarious insanity, the band shows their range and willingness to experiment while still keeping the tone of the album intact.
A very hearty applause from me on this album. Extremely well done for anyone looking for something to thrash to.
Any doubts one might have had about horrorhounds Ghoul being able to repeat the success of their previous albums were completely demolished upon hearing their latest release, Splattertrash. I personally have always loved the albums they release and was hoping that they would deliver on this album as on the others. Well, they did. As you stick your ears into your headphones and press play, the music begins to spew out a hypnotic blend of thrash and death/grind that will stay stuck in your head for days on end. Ghoul has always been one of those bands that I never get tired of and love listening to over and over again without growing bored.
So let's begin this review with the first track. Christ, it's fuckin' beautiful! One of the most amazing intros I've heard in a long ass time. Ghoul has always had this theme of Halloween type spook horror in their music. Always throwing in eerie little guitar tunes that sound like something out a late 60's B grade horror film. This becomes instantly relevant on this intro. It has a creeping sound that builds and builds and eventually the metallic sound of a rhythm guitar kicks in with some insane guitar tapping playing behind it. It's fast, melodic and catchy as hell.
The vocals are a nice change from anything typical in the sub-genres that they incoperate into their music. It has all the slight traces of them, the sort of raspy growls from death metal, the high-pitched yelling of thrash and even the gurgles and shrieks of grind. However, even though they have all these styles, when they put them together they don't really sound like anyone else, it's quite unique. The guitar work as I mentioned before is magnificent. Great solos and thrashy, but heavy riffs. Very fun stuff to listen to. Now, as for the bass, unlike other bands where it's either in the background, used for a short fill every now and then or just not heard at all, Ghoul makes great use of their bass.
This can best be proved on the song "Psychoplasm". This is a song that is much like the song "The End?" from their previous album Maniaxe. The thick bass line gives it that oldies sound mixed with rockabilly (or maybe psychobilly is a more fitting genre to decribe it) along with their dark toned thrash and death influences. Honestly it sounds like something straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. It's really cool and it's nice to hear something different that shows off all the band members' musical talents. The drums are solid as hell on this album but are not really doing anything special, just doing their job really.
All in all this is an awesome album. It has a solid track list that is roughly just under 40 minutes in length. It's not too long and not too short. And your mind definitely won't wander off at any point during your listening session. It keeps you very interested in the music and makes you want to listen more and more with each new song. It's just really fun to listen to and is great for fans of any metal sub-genre, in my opinion anyway. Do whatever you can to get your hands on this album, it is well worth your time, money and attention.
Ghoul should excite any fan of heavy music. Emerging from Oakland, CA in 2001, Ghoul has taken the metal world by storm with their fierce blend of death, thrash, and grind, but they do it in style. In the world of Ghoul, there are no serious lyrical topics, no taboo subjects; it’s all supposed to be taken light-heartedly (it’d be hard to take this seriously when the band members names are Cremator, Digestor, Dissector, and Fermentor). Their music has been called “the soundtrack to a B-Horror movie”, and rightfully so. With 12 songs riddled with obscene gore, hangover stories, and um…Killbots, Ghoul hit the nail on the head with “Splatterthrash”.
While they might’ve formed originally as a joke band (and as an appreciation to old school crossover), Ghoul quickly prove that while they’re here for a good time, that doesn’t mean they can’t play. “Into the Catacombs”, an instrumental intro, has Digestor and Dissector (the guitarists) showing off just how good they are with wonderfully chilling leads and melodies. Things quickly get heavy with “As Your Casket Closes”, especially when it becomes apparent that all of the members contribute vocals, which always keeps the variety fresh and unrelenting. It might actually sound like its one guy with just a good range in his grunts/growls/shrieks, but it’s really them just switching off. The main vocalist (Digestor) is the one you’ll hear the most, with his deep growls and throaty voice.
This whole album is just plain fun, so it doesn’t really matter if all of the songs sound the same. The guitar tone hardly changes, which is the main reason for the strong similarity between songs, but in the end, they’re all put together exceptionally well. Tracks like “Bury the Hatchet”, “Splatterthrash”, “Mutant Mutilator” all feature jack-hammer riffs and insane shouts, not to mention obscure lyrics, which usually go something like this: “ They spoke of a power contained in the skull, They said, it was brought from the stars. That thing we’d been using to crack open walnuts, Used to crack walnuts on mars? (Bury the Hatchet)”. When the lyrics aren’t just plain weird, they usually deal with detailed events involving gore and murder, but for the laughs, yet again. When there’s a song about having the “Gutbucket Blues”, where Digestor wails out about being hungover and not being able to find his shoes, there’s bound to be some chuckles. Or the just plain weird “Rise, Killbot, Rise!!!”, which all the awhile being surrounded by great musicianship and thickly-chopped riffs, cuts out every now and then to clips of a, um, Killbot as it boots itself up to, well, kill.
If you were to actually approach this album from a technical standpoint, it still wins. Every member is clearly adept at their instruments, most notably Digestor and Dissector on guitar. While most of their riffs are simple, hard-hitting palm mutes (traditional thrash style, if you must), a lot of the time, like on the almost hippie/surf oriented instrumental “Psychoplasm”, they’ll branch off with creepy variations (almost like music you would hear on Halloween) that are just gleefully evil. Not only that, but both are very ingenious when it comes to soloing, as they fit the mood of each song expertly. Cremator (bass) and Fermentor (drums) also have an exceptionally strong presence. Cremator’s bass is strong throughout, even with some fills of his own on “Life of the Living Dead”. Fermentor is just the same, delivering pounding pattern after pattern, especially on the title track which really helps the head banging come easier.
Everything about Ghoul’s “Splatterthrash” just screams for a good a time. The riffs, lyrics, and the just the songs themselves overall are worthy of repeated listens. The only thing that might irk a few listeners is the repetitive nature of most of the material. Once you get past that, however, it’ll become apparent that Ghoul has successfully created one of the more enjoyable metal albums out there, just because of the laid-back feel of it all.
Well, here we are. Three albums into this fearsome foursome’s bloody reign of thrashing terror, and we have yet to see a slowdown on the creativity that Ghoul brings into each song. We Came For the Dead brought forth an unknown assailant wielding deadly pummeling deathgrind riffs and nice up tempo drumming. Maniaxe smote us next with a barrage of razor-sharp thrash riffs and a fun vocal display by Digestor and co. (enter Dissector).
A couple of years have passed and it brought us to wonder whether these monsters of mosh had crept back to the Catacombs and faded into obscurity like so many before them…..
We wonder no more.
Splatterthrash is upon us, and there is no escape from the metal thrashing madness. Every song leaves you yearning for another neck snapping riff, another harsh raspy articulation from Digestor and friends, another twist in the never-ending horror movie plot that is Ghoul. Friends, your salvation is at hand, and it’s name is Splatterthrash, bow and hail it as an icon of metal glory.
For this particular album, the creeps took Maniaxe and kicked it up a notch (BAM!) on the ass kicking ladder. We hear similar riff styling and progressions on Splatterthrash, but where Maniaxe fell short, (hardly at all, it still ruled) this album trudges on and adds even more back story in the process, where we get to see new characters emerge and learn how the Gore Boar came to be! Songs like “Rise, Killbot, Rise!!!” utilize voice altering mechanisms amidst the thrashing that gives the impression that the Killbot is once again firing up for decimation, and subtly hints at past songs like “Mechanized Death.” This and other songs hint towards the sheer thrashing mania of Maniaxe, notably “Psychoplasm” which reminds listeners of “The End?” but with a little more riffage in the midst of Hawaiian Island noises. Other songs like “Splatterthrash” and “Bury the Hatchet” implement new methods like spots for the bass to really shine and the quartet issuing forth a fearsome shout. All of these methods packed into such a cramped little wax cylinder is enough to shock and possibly amaze you, but most certainly leave your head banging for the entire 40 minutes.
All and all, you will be thoroughly satisfied you sacrificed yourself to this quartet of questionable ethics. Splatterthrash gives you that much needed thrash fix in extra large doses with a side order of soloing. The album is gold to be treasured like no other. If you don’t give yourself up to Ghoul soon, they’ll find you, and make you wish you did. That is for damn sure.